(Photo: East2West Media Group)
Don't call yourself a believer if you're not caring for orphans, said Kay Warren.
"If we are doing little to nothing, how dare we, how dare we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ," she said Friday. "Followers of Jesus Christ care about widows and orphans and they understand that it is a litmus test.
"It is not an option."
The weighty words were delivered to thousands of church and ministry leaders on the final day of Catalyst West, a three-day conference designed to challenge leaders to be change agents in the culture.
Stripping the leaders gathered in Orange County, Calif., of their excuses, Warren said caring for orphans is not just for infertile couples or middle-aged folks who have a little discretionary money and time.
"It has nothing to do with personality, it has nothing to do with spiritual gifts, it has nothing to do with economic status, it has nothing to do with your season in life," she stressed. "It has to do with accepting the responsibility that God will one day hold us accountable."
And it's not just a matter of personal responsibility either, she indicated.
There is a theological reason all Christians are to do something to help vulnerable children.
Warren highlighted: "What our Heavenly Father does for us spiritually, He expects us to do physically."
What God did was not only save sinners but also bring them into His family.
"You and I were all spiritual orphans," she said. "We're not just cleared of the guilt of our sin. We belong in God's family. He has taken us and made us part of Himself.
"Now He shares with me everything that He has. Everything that belonged to Jesus belongs to us."
While Christians have a spiritual home, there are 143 million children around the world who don't even have a physical home.
Yet many believers likely are unable to name the names of five orphans, Warren noted.
"This is sinful," she asserted. "This is shameful. This is reprehensible."
Warren drilled into the thousands of Christians gathered that caring for orphans is not just one of many things they should be doing.
"When you understand the theology of it, you will not be able to push it away; you will not be able to put it on the backburner," she said. "You need to understand that adoption represents the heart of what Jesus Christ has done for ... us."
The orphan advocate clarified that the Bible isn't necessarily calling every person to adopt a child. She and her husband, renowned pastor Rick Warren, have not adopted, she noted.
But, she added, the Bible does say Christians have a personal responsibility to do something, whether it's contributing to the fund of a family trying to adopt, providing house cleaning for a family that adopted, or getting involved with church sponsorship of children.
At the same time, it's not enough to simply send some money or place children in orphanages.
"God is a relational God," she said. "And orphanage is an institutional solution."
"What's the best?" she posed. "For children to be in homes with their own families."
Warren challenged every Christian family to ask themselves: "God, do you want our family to adopt?"
In the United States, if one family out of every four churches adopted a child, there would be no orphans in the country, she highlighted.
"You guys, that's doable."